Turtle Traders: A Case of Nature vs. Nurture in Forex Trading

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Here’s a popular trading statistic that’s thrown around a lot in the retail forex world: More than 95% of traders fail. With such a high exit rate, you’d think that being a good trader is genetic!

But the fact of the matter is that nobody is born a good trader. Successful traders are made, not born. Nothing can prove this concept more than the story of the Turtle Traders.

In 1983, two commodity traders, Richard Dennis and Bill Eckhardt, got into a heated debate on whether being a good trader was a product of genes or if it could be taught.

It was the classic nature versus nurture debate.

Eckhardt believed that exceptional trading came from within and that it could not be taught.


Dennis, on the other hand, argued that anybody could be a good trader through proper forex education.

Their argument got so intense that they decided to put their theories to the test.

Dennis recruited 23 people from all sorts of different backgrounds and started a training program to help see how each would perform after some training. In their training, each recruit was given a set of trading rules to follow, but in the end, it was entirely up to them how they would trade.


Dennis called his recruits “The Turtles” and gave each of them $1 million to trade with.

Within 4 years, the group as a whole made a sum of over $100 million. The most successful of them during that experiment, Curtis Faith, was only NINETEEN when he first started the program.

The Turtles experiment proved that you don’t need to have a “trader gene” to become good at trading and that almost anybody can become an excellent trader with the right tools and lots of practice.

The story of the Turtle Traders is truly a motivating one.

Whenever you feel down and think that you’re just not born for trading, think of the Turtle Traders.

They had almost ZERO prior trading experience yet most, if not all of them were able to make big cash during their run with Richard and Dennis. They essentially learned from trial and error, and from experience.

So always remember to train well, young padawan. It is nurture, not nature that is more important in shaping the trader mindset.

In the book, The Complete Turtle Trader, Michael W. Covel, bestselling author of Trend Following and managing editor of TurtleTrader.com, the leading website on the Turtles, tells their riveting story with the first-ever on the record interviews with individual Turtles. He describes how Dennis interviewed and selected his students, details their education and experiences while working for him, and breaks down the Turtle system and rules in full. He reveals how they made astounding fortunes and follows their lives from the original experiment to the present day. Some have grown even wealthier than ever, and include some of today’s top hedge fund managers.



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